Wednesday, March 14, 2012

2012 March Madness: South Region First Round Breakdown

by John Huffstetler

1 Kentucky vs. 16 Western Kentucky- Western Kentucky is a great story, but Kentucky will dismantle them. 1 Kentucky advances

8 Iowa St. vs 9 UConn- Iowa St. had few quality wins out of conference this year. They managed to win several close home games in conference against high quality foes Kansas, Baylor, Kansas St., and Texas, but they had little success on the road in conference with their one good road win coming at Kansas St. UConn is by far the more talented team, but struggled all season to find consistency amidst the turmoil surrounding Jim Calhoun's health. They found their rhythm late in the season and played their best basketball all year long in the Big East tourney. They also have the far superior defensive squad (19th in effective fg% compared to 147th), a good indicator in tourney time of success. 9 UConn advances

5 Wichita St. vs. 12 VCU- VCU uses a high pressure defense to attempt to disrupt the flow of the opponent's half court offense and force turnovers. The problem in this match-up is Wichita St.'s ball handling capabilities. Almost every position on the floor can handle the basketball. VCU is a solid team again this year, but without the turnovers forced on their side, their average shooting will become a major liability. 5 Wichita St. advances

4 Indiana vs. 13 New Mexico St.- The Verdell Jones injury doesn't hurt Indiana as much as the general public believes. Indiana is a strong team with an incredibly efficient offense (4th in the nation) and several wins over elite teams (Kentucky, Ohio St., Mich St.). NM St has an interesting squad that uses their offensive rebounding ability to create numerous extra possessions on offense, but the Hoosiers should win this game in the end. 4 Indiana advances

6 UNLV vs. 11 Colorado- The Pac-12 is terrible. Cal showed exactly what level of play typified the Pac-12 this season. Colorado does not impress in any facet of the game. They had precisely zero quality non-conference wins and didn't even perform that well in conference before the tourney. An 11 seed baffles me for this should be 14 seed. UNLV isn't great in any aspect of the game, but they don't have any glaring weaknesses either, and thus, they should win this game by double digits. 6 UNLV advances

3 Baylor vs. 14 South Dakota St.- Baylor's only glaring weakness is their penchant for turning the ball over. SD St., however, ranks only 220th in the nation in turnovers forced. Baylor is more likely to lose to a high pressure squad like Missouri (3 losses to them this year) than a conservative squad like SD St. 3 Baylor advances

7 Notre Dame vs. 10 Xavier- Xavier is a much better team than their seed indicates. They have tourney experience and several upperclassmen, and without their brawl earlier in the year, they probably would have 3 to 4 more wins. On the other side, Notre Dame probably maxed out their potential earning a 7 seed thanks to a terrific coaching job from Mike Brey again ths year. I don't know how much more he can get out of this, frankly, talent-lacking squad. 10 Xavier advances

2 Duke vs. 15 Lehigh- Lehigh is a solid team making this match-up much closer than the names would indicate, but Duke should still win this game. Duke has several defensive deficiencies, but Lehigh doesn't have an offense good enough to take advantage. 2 Duke advances

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